Millions of Americans live with physical, mental, or cognitive disabilities, impairments, or special needs. These individuals are at the highest risk of injury or death in residential fires. It is important to know their specific risks and build a fire prevention and evacuation plan around their abilities.
- Understand your fire risk: Having a special need, physical or mental disability doesn't mean you can't keep yourself and your family safe from fire. Build your home safety plan around your abilities.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms: Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. If you can't reach the test button on your smoke alarm, ask someone to test it for you.
- Live near an exit: Although you have the legal right to live where you choose, you'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multistory home, arrange to sleep on the first floor. Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier.
- Plan your escape: Plan your escape around your capabilities. Know at least two exits from every room. If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you can get through the doorways. Make any necessary changes, such as installing exit ramps and widening doorways, to make an emergency escape easier.
- Do not isolate yourself: Speak to your family members, building manager or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them. Ask emergency providers to keep your needs information on file. Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.